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Christianity, like Shakespeare, never goes out of date

Unlike the pseudo-scripture of our age, the texts are timeless

By on Friday, 2 November 2012

Timeless     Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Timeless Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The gospel for the Feast of All Saints was that of the Beatitudes, the start of the Sermon on the Mount, which is of course the most famous gospel passage of all. It is usually cited by moral theologians as being Jesus’ equivalent of the Ten Commandments, which were delivered through Moses on a different mountain. The Sermon is, like the Ten Commandments, something that does not grow old.

All this reminded me of what Ben Jonson  said about Shakespeare: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” If that is true of Shakespeare – and it most certainly is -how much more is it true of the Gospels.

Again, I was reminded of something once said by Fr Francesco Pierli, the Comboni missionary, at a meeting I attended in Africa. “The Bible,” he said “is a moment in history that illuminates the whole of history.”

Shakespeare and the Bible are both products of their time, that reflect their time; but they are not locked into the culture that produced them. You do not need to travel back to Elizabethan England in order to understand the universal themes of, let us say, Romeo and Juliet. And you certainly do not have to enter into the world of the Ancient Near East to be able to read the Bible, which transcends history, time and place, while being, at the same time, securely anchored in all three. This is why, contrary to the expectations of so many, Christianity simply does not go out of date. So many pseudo-gospels – Marxism being the most obvious example – look very passé now; and quite a lot of modern trends will, fifty years from now, look anything but. But the Scriptures are as fresh now as when they were written.

Like all priests, I went to seminary, and like many I was disappointed by much of the teaching there. Some of it was good, but the part that really let me down, I felt, was the Scriptural part. The approach taken was something like this. To enter into the text, you need first to understand authorial intention; to understand authorial intention, you have to understand the author’s “living situation” (Sitz im leben); and to do that you have to reconstruct as fully as possible the concerns of that long dead person, which will involve understanding the language that person spoke. And so it was, before we could ever approach the Scriptures themselves, we had to spend hours and hours listening to very diffuse talk about the Hittites.

But the truth of the matter is, it seems to me, that people can engage with the text without any preamble whatever, and find it profitable. The text speaks directly. You do not have to know about the Hittites; you do not have to know about the Roman Empire to understand, for example, the accounts of Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. When Pontius Pilate asks “What is truth?” or says “Quod scripsi, scripsi” or “Ecce Homo”, these things speak for themselves.

Please do not think that I am going down the Lutheran path of Holy Scripture being its own interpretation. Rather I am saying that just as moral experience is at first hand, so too is the experience of God through the reading of the Bible. What that experience means, of course, has to be interpreted by the Church. But the foundational approach to Holy Scripture surely must be that of Saint Augustine: pick up and read. Tolle, lege!

Talking of great literature, consider this, from Book Eight of St Augustine’s Confessions, which is great theology too:

I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl, I know not which — coming from the neighbouring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.” Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: “Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee.

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.” I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.

  • Kevin

    Actually, I am pleased to read about this seminary training.

    Biblical interpretation is one of the favourite topics of the so-called New Atheists. Perhaps even the whole of their line of attack rests on attacking the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. (One should not expect them to be intellectually honest about the distinction between Protestantism and Catholicism.) Well-trained Catholic Biblical scholars who can put them down in a rigorous manner would be a powerful force in this fight.

  • Cestius

    CS Lewis long ago pointed out that the so-called experts and trendy people rarely grapple with what the Bible and Christianity are saying, instead they try to write it off as outdated, a prisoner of its time or find some other emotional term to condemn it. In that respect little has changed since CS Lewis’s time.

  • Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB

    This article is misleading and unhelpful. Of course believers can read the Bible without advanced Scripture studies. But seminary education is for future teachers and teachers, and of course they should learn all about the Hittites and all the rest – the context that helps to interpret the text. The popes, especially since Pius XII (Divino afflante Spiritu, 1943), have called for such Scripture scholarship and study.

    I must admit: I’m shocked to read that a Catholic priest is poo-pooing Scripture study as the Catholic Church herself does it.

    awr

  • Alban

    Father, have you actually read this blog article? If you have, I suggest you read it again, more slowly than you did the first time. Then again, perhaps the intellect and clarity for which the Benedictines were once known has faded somewhat in recent years. If you were as clever as Alexander Lucie-Smith, I’m sure the Catholic Herald would have offered you a blog too…

  • Acleron

    New atheism doesn’t rest on just pointing out that a book written 2000 and more years ago is out of date. Just referring to the current conflict and misery caused by religion is a more powerful argument.

    As to intellectual dishonesty, I have seen in these very columns people who have stated that they consider it perfectly correct to lie to get their religiously inspired beliefs accepted.

    However, if you have anybody who can show, in a rigorous fashion, that the facts the bible gets wrong are actually correct and the contradictions are not actually contradictions then bring them forward. 

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Are you a human being imitating a stuck record or a stuck record imitating a human being? (The latter would be more interesting.)

    Anyway, the answers will go something like this:

    1) Pol Pot…?? 2) Not if they’re faithful Catholics you haven’t. 3) Depends what you’re referring to, but you’re probably misunderstanding the genre of the text. (Thank goodness for the infallible teaching authority of the Church to sort out such difficulties, eh?)

  • Hermit

    God is simple.

    The more he draws us to himself
    the simpler we become.

    Take prayer: when one is on the
    threshold of spiritual life, one starts with a lot of vocal prayers, then
    meditation. But, when one advances by God’s grace in his spiritual life, one
    starts reducing vocal prayers and increasing mental ones.

    If we remain faithful to God and
    his grace, we can reach a state where we can keep the presence of God, the Holy
    Trinity, continuously before us also while doing some work and speak to God
    with an interior smile. That smile, simple as it is, embraces all prayers,
    gives the greatest glory to God, obtains graces to all people, also those who
    are not yet born, up to the end of time, benefits all souls in Purgatory.

    I call it a special grace where
    we win all temptations and occasions of sin immediately, always, and easily.

     

     

    No words can explain clearly what
    this simple life with God entails. Experience tells it all.

     

  • Acleron

    1) What???? How dim you must want to burn the intellectual torch to try and say that Stalin’s, Pot’s or Mao’s actions were inspired by a non-belief. Does believing in something you cannot prove somehow make you better? Obviously it doesn’t in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland or in the past.
    2) That is exactly what is meant by intellectual dishonesty. I noticed zero believers pointing out the mendacity of lying for your church’s beliefs, even though it was openly stated. 
    3) The meanings ascribed to the text in the bible are varied both in space and time. In effect, you interpret them. They are that loose in meaning that you interpret them anyway you want.
    4) Infallible? So why is killing people because they disagree with you ok one moment and not the next, just to mention one piece of so called infallibility?

    Perhaps you should spend some time on a skeptic forum to air your views. JREF is a good one, unpopular points are not dismissed by insults against posters, which is the norm here. You’ll get criticised for lack of evidence and logic, but you claim you have all these. Just a shame it is never shown.

  • Patrickhowes

    Well Father Ruff,the Benedictines ought to start living ny example after all the shame they have brought on the Holy Church!You have a history of abuse and greed and being obsessed with money.So Iam happy for you as a congregation to start looking up in the Holy scripture the moral lessons on both

  • andHarry

    ‘But the truth of the matter is, it seems to me, that people can engage
    with the text without any preamble whatever, and find it profitable. The
    text speaks directly.’

    I agree absolutely. If you allow the leading of the Holy Spirit, who ‘leads into all truth’ you will not go far wrong. It is of course useful to see what others, churches, etc. say, but ultimately you yourself must choose as Pascal reminds us. Paul exhorts that we be persuaded in ‘our own minds’, and Jesus said that if we did not accept it ‘like a little child ‘ we would never enter the kingdom of God.
    Luke 10:21. In
    that same hour, he rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said: I confess to
    thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these
    things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little
    ones [the unlearned disciples with Him]. Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight.

  • Patrickhowes

    Fr Ruff could you explain this pls?:::

    “I have recently visited the “Pray Tell” blog, which seems to be mostly run by a Benedictine priest, Fr. Anthony Ruff from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Yes my friends, the home of liturgical demolition. There are many other contributors to the blog, but I will be focusing on some of the statements made by Fr. Ruff. The blog claims the following, “a blog that gives practical wisdom about prayer, sacraments, and the community of the faithful – in short, worship. Created especially for pastors, liturgists, musicians, and scholars…” The blog in my opinion however, is a perfect illustration of everything that has gone wrong in the Church for the last 40 years. It espouses liberal slants on just about everything concerning Catholicism. I went on the blog and left a few comments, but most of them were deleted within hours of posting them because of my engaging opposition to Fr. Ruff’s liberal opinions on matters such as liturgy, theology and Thomism. 

  • Patrickhowes
  • Patrickhowes

    And you criticise Fr Lucie Smith,so explain this too Fr?.Have you heard the word Magisterium?
    http://fratres.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/full-text-fr-anthony-ruff-o-s-b-an-open-letter-to-the-u-s-catholic-bishops-on-the-forthcoming-missal/

  • andHarry

    ‘ I noticed zero believers pointing out the mendacity of lying for your church’s beliefs, even though it was openly stated. ‘

    I have not encountered such endorsement of lying in defense of a good cause here, but certainly cardinals at their installation take a solemn vow to conceal those things which if known would bring dishonour to the church. Richard Sipe was present when such a vow was made. We have seen the consequences of such blind obedience in the concealing of sexual offenses against children; and the existence of such a mindset leads one to doubt anything emanating from the hierarchy.

  • teigitur

    Its Fr Ruff of “Pray tell “fame.He thinks he IS the Magisterium!

  • teigitur

    “This article is misleading and unhelpful”. Pot, kettle and darkest colour Father.

  • teigitur

    Spot on. They are typical liberals on “pray tell”. Any beliefs are allowed as long as they approve. I stopped looking on it, its very bad for the blood pressure, never mind the soul!

  • Patrickhowes

    They need outing!

  • teigitur

    Or “Auto Da Fe”” lol. This will be removed!!

  • GratefulCatholic

    Fr Alexander, I quite often just open my Bible at random and read, it is just wonderful how often the passage relates to a matter that has recently been vexing my poor mind. The Haydock Commentaries then help me start off on further study. Thank you for your articles.     

  • aearon43

    Today on the train on the way to work I saw a young black man quite immersed in the study of the Bible. There were numerous sticky notes attached to various pages and he was in the process of noting down observations on a particular verse. The page was already covered with many such jottings. Given that almost all black people in my city are Protestants, I think it’s fair to assume that he was a Protestant, as well. This sort of devotion to Scripture is something Catholics can learn from our separated bretheren. (While it is of course helpful to have a firm grounding in ancient history and languages, the lack thereof shouldn’t discourage us./)

  • TreenonPoet

     A firm grounding in science might be more useful as that would highlight just how wrong the Bible is and discourage anybody from thinking that it might be inspired by a perfect God.

  • aearon43

    The Bible is not a scientific work, and Catholics do not believe that it satisfies scientific criteria. For example, it says the world was created in six “days,” but time does not exist in the same way for God and the reader is not to interpret such passages literally, that is, as periods of exactly 24 hours. Likewise, when Shakespeare writes, “If music be the food of love, play on,” educated readers understand that “food” is used in a figurative sense, different from that of physical, caloric nutrition. They do not take Shakespeare to task because music exists on an intellectual, spiritual plane, and does not actually provide physical nourishment. Indeed if one were to do so they might need to see a psychiatrist for possible autism disorder.

    In addition, there are many particularities of Jewish law which are in the Old Testament for historical reasons but no longer strictly observed by Christians. (Although there is nothing wrong with observing them.) 

  • Nabuquduriuzhur

      It is of interest as to why an Atheist, who claims not to believe that there is a God, hate God.

    It’s not as if Christianity has harmed them personally, nor that God has harmed them.

    And yet the typical Atheist is a hater, bitterly.

    There are at least two things at play in this hatred of God and Chrisitianity:
    1. The Atheist knows that many of the things that he/she wants to do is wrong. His/her conscience convicts them. Thus the Atheist lashes out against what he/she considers the source of that knowledge.
    2. The Atheist wants others to live by a moral code, but the Atheist wants to do whatever they want to others. That is a primary motivation of the religion of Atheism is so that the Atheist can act like a bestial beast toward others, as without God, there is no basis for morals governing behavior, from lying to stealing to murder to rape.

    Because Atheists know in their heart of hearts that these two things are wrong, they hate God, they hate Christianity.

    Because they have no morals nor fear of God, we have seen those calling themselves Atheists over the last couple of centuries getting into power doing the most horrific of things to those they control.

    Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and a host of others claimed to be Atheists, even as they were of the religion of Socialism. 9, 7, 10, and 10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto, respectively.

    Since Atheists have no basis for a moral standard, lies such as “Christianity has caused more wars, more casualties, etc.” are now claimed, with casualty figures far larger than the entire populations of those nations who actually went to war.

    I object to that rewriting of history by Atheists.

    I would firmly agree that religion has caused much misery. Socialism has slain at least 250 million people and enslaved between 1.5 and 2 billion over the years. Islam has slain 60+ million and invaded nations and slaughtered peoples from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. The Thugs killed an unknown number as worship of Kali, but at hundreds of thousands per year, the total number must have been enormous.

    It’s lost to Atheists that the 30 Years War, the Hussite Wars, and similar wars were started and pursued by Christians in name only. Pursued by non-Christian leaders of the Catholic Church of those times, persons who were not believers in Christ. They merely called themselves Christians and used various excuses to attack believing Christians in direct contradiction of the Bible.

    Such wars for territory and greed are not sanctioned by the Bible.

    That is lost on Atheists.

    The same type of hypocrites existed in Christ’s time with many Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, Zealots and so on being Israelites in name only, being unbelievers. Christ called some of them “the synagogue of satan.”

    What about a person who claims to be a Christian, but ignores the teachings of Christ? Are they any different than the Israelites of Jesus’ Day when they didn’t follow the Scriptures that they had?

    Think the Borgias were Christians? Think again. The Bible certainly does not sanction murder. “Love thy neighbor” and “if your enemy is hungry, feed him” are what Christians are told to do.

    Those popes who did wars for territory and personal riches were not believers. The same with those who were anti-Semitic in the Catholic Church— most were not believers, and were simply Christians in name only. Unsaved. Unregenerated. No evidence of Salvation in their conduct.

    They are in torments today, wishing desperately that they had chosen to accept Christ’s Gift of Salvation.

    There have been a plethora of persons who called themselves Christians, but they were not. To be a Christian, one must be Saved. The Bible is clear on that. One is either unSaved, or Saved. There is no middle ground. The Saved go to Heaven when Christ calls them home, and the unSaved go to torments and eventually to the White Throne Judgement, where they are thrown into the Lake of Fire otherwise called hell.

    A Saved person actually does act and think in ways that are different from the unbeliever as a general rule. Not every moment of every day— we are still sinners despite being Saved and the Holy Spirit indwelling us— but the mind is different after Salvation. It’s an indication of whether a person is saved or not. What a person thinks governs what they do.

    With that in mind, when a leader starts a war for selfish reasons such as gold or territorial acquisition in order to increase his/her personal power, is that person a Christian?

    The answer is obvious on that one, but being a fundamentally-dishonest being, the Atheist misses that distinction.

    If a person does something wrong, harming another person, if that person is in a church, does that mean that the other millions of believers who would literally never do the same thing are somehow to blame?

    To the Atheist they are.

    And that is wrong.

    When an Atheist has a viceral hate reaction to seeing a church, or to meeting a Christian, is that the problem of the church or the Christian?

    When an Atheist lies, misrepresents, deceives, or deliberately mischaracterizes, such as in some of the comments here, what does that say about Atheism?

    When an Atheist becomes an Atheist in order to lie, cheat, steal, sleep around, etc., is it right for the Atheist to hate those things and people that remind the Atheist— remind the Atheist by their mere existance— that what they do is wrong?

    Hating others because they merely remind the Atheist of morality? Hating others because they remind the Atheist of Jesus Christ?

    What do these things say about the modern religion of Atheism?

    Hate is not rational. Ignoring that which is factual is not rational.

    Atheism is thus not rational.

    I note in passing that I hold several degrees and have worked both in the engineering and biology fields. I have never seen anything in nature that directly contradicted what is in the Bible. I have however, seen religions like Evolution, Climate Change, radioisotopic dating, etc., that break the rules of science whenever convenient.

    Needless to say, “science” that is contradicted by other science does not impress me.

    But it does impress the Atheist, who, despite what they claim being directly contradicted by physical laws, cling desperately to their religion.

    In that, they are to be pitied.

  • JabbaPapa

    /roll-eyes/

  • JabbaPapa

    I have seen in these very columns people who have stated that they
    consider it perfectly correct to lie to get their religiously inspired
    beliefs accepted

    I haven’t — and that looks suspiciously like an impertinent and illogical generalisation.

    It’s suggestive of the topical logical fallacy : Socrates is bald ; Socrates is a man ; *therefore all men are bald.

    However, if you have anybody who can show, in a rigorous fashion, that
    the facts the bible gets wrong are actually correct and the
    contradictions are not actually contradictions then bring them forward

    Charles Darwin once claimed that that merely by domesticating animals, we increased the rate of new variants of these species appearing — WRONG !!!

    How many times has it been pointed out to you that the Bible is NOT a science textbook ?

    It contains some old scientific notions that later turned out to be wrong, just the same as Darwin’s Origin of Species does.

    The sort of Bible interpretation that you’re claiming to be normal is typically only ever proposed by militant atheists, and a few extremist Protestants.

    Why don’t you go and bother the people who peddle these false readings of Scripture, over on “Young Earth Creationists dot com” or somewhere ?

  • TreenonPoet

     An example that illustrates my point, one that I have cited a number of times on this site without receiving a passable response, is that of terrestial topology. Both the Old and New testaments are consistent with a flat Earth. I realise that the shape of the Earth is not relevant to the Bible’s message, but it is relevant to claims on the Bible’s errancy. There is no way that a flat Earth can be ‘interpreted’ to mean a round Earth. There are equivalent failures in the works of Shakespeare (and, of course, Shakespeare’s Globe is not a globe). No matter the degree to which Shakespeare’s works are based on fact, nor how much truth is portrayed in them, they are accepted as works of fiction. Why not the Bible?

  • JabbaPapa

    In fact, the notion of a Flat Earth is NOT contained in the Bible.

    Not one single verse of Scripture makes such a claim.

    There are some verses that are rather forcefully reinterpreted by anti-Christians and atheists as if they did say such a thing — but in fact, they do NOT.

    In other words, here is an example of YOUR unscientific thinking leading you to make false claims about the Bible as well as about Judaism and Christianity, Jews and Christians.

  • TreenonPoet

     In the Bible there are plenty of verses (more than a dozen) that refer to the ends of the Earth, many verses that desribe the sky as a dome (implying a flat Earth), and many others that imply a flat Earth in other ways (such as being able to see all the kingdoms of the world by climbing a high mountain). It does not directly describe the Earth as flat, but if the writers thought that it went without saying, why would they say it?

  • Peter

    In fact the Bible has predicted several remarkable things thousands of years 
    ago:
    1.  That the universe has a beginning, refuted for millennnia by godless philosophers and scientists right up to the start of the 20th century, who believed the universe was eternal and unchanging.  Soon after, the universe was indeed found to be expanding and to have had a beginning.2. That the universe was created out of nothingness, which indeed is what current science is leading us to as we delve deeper into quantum mechanics and extend our observations of the cosmos, concluding that on balance the total energy of the universe is zero.3. That the Creator is both timeless and spaceless, neither constrained by time nor space.  Again quantum mechanics suggests that whatever is responsible for the creation of the spacetime of our universe out of nothing must have been be external to it.  Some in desperation suggest a multiverse.4. That creation (i.e.the universe) is not infinite.  Having had a beginning in time, we know that the universe has not grown infinitely large because it has not existed for an infinite amount of time.  Likewise the law of gravity tells us that the universe cannot be infinitely small otherwise gravity would be infinite and black holes would exist instead of matter.These staggering predictions up to four thousand years ago are truly uncanny, scary even.  Not bad for a book thrown together by “nomadic goat herders” is it?

  • Peter

    How do I edit my post?

  • kentgeordie

    Bad science supports bad religion.
    Bad science attacks good religion.
    Good science attacks bad religion.
    Good science supports good religion.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Putting aside the rather eccentric decision to moderate my last comment….

    1) You suggested that there is a causal link between religion and violence by picking a couple of examples. Analogously, it should be possible to ‘prove’ a link between atheism and violence by picking a couple of examples of atheists doing bad things. (In reality, of course, the common link is with human wickedness: sometimes religious people do bad things; sometimes atheists do bad things.)

    2) You’re rather changing your point here. Is your claim that some Catholics have advocated lying for their beliefs? (Which would be clearly sinful.) Or are you claiming that some Catholics have failed to correct others for such advocacy? (Which might be down to all sorts of reasons, including only so many hours in a day.) 

    3) Interpretation of the Bible is essential. That’s not the same as imposing absolutely any meaning on it. Perhaps the most important rule of interpretation is Christ’s message in the New Testament: any action or texts in the Old Testament have to be interpreted against the clear teachings of the incarnate God. Do remember: for Catholics, it is the foundation of the Church by Christ that is essential for our understanding, and not the creation of the Bible by that Church.

    4) Hard to know what you mean here without more information, but I’m tempted to reply with Macmillan, as much out of mischief rather than anything else, ‘Events, my dear boy, events.’

    On your kind invitation to join you on sceptics’ forums, I have wasted time there in the past. It does rather depend which forums you mean, but generally, I’ve no desire to disrupt others’ home spaces. If a site is intended for a particular world view, I’m usually not going to march in there to witness to them given the limited resources of a combox: if they are intelligent, then we are past the stage of comboxes and need to get down to more detailed arguments (and that really means books); if they are unintelligent, it just gets bogged down in point scoring. (Sounds familiar?) I go here to share ideas with other Catholics (and anyone who is genuinely open rather than just trolling); otherwise, I go to sites where -because they are focused on issues (such as politics) where there is chance for a genuine interchange of views rather than just posturing- I don’t feel I’m setting out to troll and where there’s a chance for me to learn something. Frankly, I did all the juvenile atheist stuff when I was a juvenile atheist -and I’ve no real wish to go back to it.

    Of course,you might rightly ask why, given all this, I’m bothering to reply in a considered fashion to your points, and, on that, you may well have a point…

  • TreenonPoet

     There is no such thing as good religion. No amount of good in a particular religion excuses the bad. Religions are bad because they encourage irrational thinking.

  • Acleron

    Scientists don’t deny they can possibly be wrong. We have learned more since Darwin, so it is hardly surprising that some of his conclusions can be incorrect. Unfortunately, you chose the wrong example, he was completely correct about domesticated species and it doesn’t only apply to animals. Perhaps you were thinking about mutation rate but from previous experience, you probably don’t understand the difference. Of course, what was amazing was how much he concluded correctly. This is of course a completely different problem to the incorrect statements on fact and conduct found in your bible. But that is hardly surprising for a collection of stories written for a completely different and worse society than we have today.

    You cherry pick what you want from the bible and interpret the rest if it doesn’t fit. The YECs you refer to do exactly the same as yourself, they just decide to believe in a different set of so called facts.

    BTW, among the religious sites, this is one of the very few that behave in the same way as skeptical sites in that they allow the posting of dissenting comments . Of course, that also allows people like yourself to continually suggest that such posters go away, that’s your freedom of expression and long may it continue, it demonstrates  your intolerance.

  • kentgeordie

    I’d love to read John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio with you, and for you to show me in what ways it is irrational.


    Richard Ashton
    Sent with Sparrow (http://www.sparrowmailapp.com/?sig)

  • TreenonPoet

     The Church must be very proud of what it has done to you.

  • TreenonPoet

     In searching for the ultimate answers, faith (in the sense of a high level of confidence rather than religious faith) might help the determination required to persist, but other than that I can think of no way in which such faith can contribute. Religious faith, however, is an obstacle to discovering the answers because it obstructs scientific and philosophical enquiry, often assuming that the answers are already provided by the religion. It is irrational to suggest otherwise.

    The UK Department for Education claims that Religious Education is important because religions answer the ultimate questions. What use are made-up answers?

  • andHarry

      ‘The Church must be very proud of what it has done to you.’

    No, not the Church, but the Holy Spirit. He is a member of the church yet to be revealed at Christ,s coming; to set up His millennial reign on Earth.

  • TreenonPoet

     How do you know this?

  • Mark

    Let’s remember that Shakespeare was a Catholic who had an excellent grasp of the beauty of language. The modern translations of the Bible often lack that beauty because the 1960′s crowd claimed that poetic language was too difficult for the common people to understand. However, the modern boring and banal Bible translations just put people to sleep during Mass and then they’re really not understood. Instead, let’s return to beauty in Bible translations.

  • Mark

    Let’s remember that Shakespeare was a Catholic who had an excellent
    grasp of the beauty of language. The modern translations of the Bible
    often lack that beauty because the 1960′s crowd claimed that poetic
    language was too difficult for the common people to understand. However,
    the modern boring and banal Bible translations just put people to sleep
    during Mass and then they’re really not understood. Instead, let’s
    return to beauty in Bible translations.

  • Acleron

    The bible did not predict the universe was made from nothing. 

    ‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.’

    So water was there before there was light.

  • Acleron

    I didn’t see it in my post, are you sure it was moderated and not just lost in transmission, it may be a Disqus problem.

    The point about violence is that it isn’t just a religious person committing violence. The violent acts are performed because of the religion. They are performed with the permission and encouragement of religion. The reason for the violence originates with  religion. For your point, you would have to show people causing violence because they have no belief.

    As for lying for your cause, let me clear any confusion, it is both doing it and being implicitly supported by silence. Your protestations that these are not ‘true’ christians falls on stony ground while you fail to criticise those lies as they happen.

    Your 3rd point is just nonsense. Either you accept what is in your bible or you reject it. If it requires interpretation then you require a strict algorithm for that interpretation. No matter how much hand weaving you do, you just cherry pick the bits you want and change anything else to suit.

    A) You need to brush up on your knowledge of modern English. Making comments that disagree with the majority, is not trolling.

    BTW your reply was lengthy but hardly considered.

  • andHarry

     The language in which his post is couched would lead me to believe that he would claim to be led by the Holy Spirit rather than a church – rather like Paul and the other evangelizing preachers of the early church. I may be wrong of course:-)

  • JabbaPapa

    Religions are bad because they encourage irrational thinking.

    That statement is irrational.

  • JabbaPapa

    That’s just your interpretation and inference, and it’s based on nothing more solid than your unscientific prejudice.

    Certainly, by the time that the New Testament was written, the question of the shape of the World was being hotly disputed — and it had been for over 500 years previously.

    Adele has a song with the lyrics “Go to the ends of the earth for you. To make you feel my love…”

    Does she also believe in a Flat Earth ?

    Did Joseph Conrad believe in a Flat Earth, because he once wrote “The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day,
    after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth…” ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Scientists don’t deny they can possibly be wrong

    Please show me one single statement in Scripture that denies that possibility.

    You’re inventing stuff out of thin air again, to support your own a priori views.

    Perhaps you were thinking about mutation rate but from previous experience, you probably don’t understand the difference

    … oh don’t I … so you just *assume* that I didn’t mean exactly what I meant, so as to support your knee-jerk disagreement with me ? Wonderful.

    Of course, that also allows people like yourself to continually suggest that such posters go away

    No, I suggested that you take your comments about YEC to places where they might do some good, instead of posting them in here to an audience entirely comprised of people having nothing to do with it.

  • kentgeordie

    Your faith seems to be that ‘scientific and philosophical enquiry’ are our best tools for reaching the truth. A highly dubious claim, but still only one faith to set against another, mine.

    Richard Ashton
    Sent with Sparrow (http://www.sparrowmailapp.com/?sig)

  • JabbaPapa

    Have you ever heard of something called “poetry” ? You should try it one day …